WILL x Will Smith Discussion Questions
Updated: Aug 3
"One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had." Source: goodreads.com
The following questions were discussed by the SoLoveSoul Book Club. Click the link for more information
1. “Fear is embraced as a survival necessity. It is a widely held belief that in order to protect Black children, they must fear parental authority. The instilling of fear is viewed as an offering of love.” (9) Why do you think our community embraced corporal punishment and parental fear as a survival necessity and expression of love? Is this belief still just as prevalent in this generation of parents as in older generations? Is it an effective form of parenting or does it reinforce generational traumas?
2. "Just like I couldn't face my father. Just like I couldn't face the neighborhood bullies. I couldn't even tell someone that someone else was potentially being hurt. What was wrong with me? Why was I always so afraid...such a coward." (33) After reading about Will's life and childhood traumas do you have a better understanding of his behavior at the Oscars? Why do you think he had a sudden urge to defend his wife in such a violent way?
3. “I sensed for the first time that I wasn’t weak; in fact, I was infinitely powerful—I just had no control over it.” (65) In this chapter, Will juxtaposes his verbal strengths with Paul’s physical strengths. Is it more powerful to use verbal or physical attacks to demand respect?
4. “My girlfriend cheated on me, which was proof to my shattered mind that I was a piece of shit…she wouldn’t have cheated on me if I had been good enough. I had failed another woman.” Women often internalize being cheated on but is this a common reaction for men (specifically men of color)? What does Will's reaction to being cheated on say about his self-image issues and his constant need to please people?
5. “We’re all waiting until we have deep knowledge, wisdom, and a sense of certainty before we venture forth. But we’ve got it backward— venturing forth is how we gain the knowledge.” Are you more inclined to bet on yourself or play it safe? Talk about a time you ventured forward without having all of the knowledge and wisdom about what you were doing. Reflect on that journey and what taking a step into the unknown taught you about yourself.
6. “The thing about money, sex, and success is that when you don’t have them you can justify your misery…but once you are rich, famous, successful—and you’re still insecure and unhappy—the terrifying thought beings to lurk: maybe the problem is me.” Why do we equate money, sex, and success to happiness? Do you think people are truly happier or more content when they are successful or rich? Is this idea a universal concept or is it more common in the black community propagated by the Hip Hop image?
7. In this week’s section, we see how Will’s healing journey began as he became more mentally in tune with his feelings What do you think of his journey now that we’ve finished the book?
8. “Daddy has a picture of a family in his mind. And it’s not us?” In this section, Will states that he started “noticing feelings”. Using what we’ve read in the book and the family’s interactions in the video, what are your thoughts on their family dynamic now? Are your views/opinions different from what they were before you finished the book?
9. The book ends with the death of Daddio followed by “The Jump.” Why do you think Will chose to close his story in this way? What does the death of Daddio represent in his life? What does the jump represent in his life?